Editorial: Domestic violence alarm

photo by: Journal-World Photo Illustration

Lawrence Journal-World Editorial

Incidents of domestic violence in Douglas County are up more than 20 percent in the past two years.

That’s an alarming statistic that should grab the attention of county officials and residents alike.

According to the 2017 Kansas Domestic Violence, Stalking and Rape Report from the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, domestic violence incidents in Douglas County went from 825 in 2015 to 886 in 2016 and to 1,000 in 2017. Requests for restraining orders in Douglas County increased from 345 in 2015 to 367 in 2017.

Statewide, KBI said 38 homicides related to domestic violence occurred in 2017, representing the most domestic violence homicides in 20 years. One of those cases was in Douglas County.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.” The abuse can include physical violence, sexual violence, threats and emotional abuse.

Women are more apt to be victims of domestic violence than men. National statistics from the NCADV, an organization that advocates for public policies designed to help and protect domestic violence victims, show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience domestic violence during their lifetime. The NCADV says there are more than 10 million incidents of abuse annually, which equates to 20 victims every minute. According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence, domestic violence hotlines receive more than 20,000 calls per day. Yet, in 2016, the number of staff positions assigned to assisting victims of domestic violence decreased by 1,200, according to the NNEDV.

Domestic violence has a devastating economic impact as NCADV estimates such violence costs the U.S. economy more than $5 billion per year as 8 million days of paid work are lost to domestic violence each year.

The statistics are seemingly endless. The most sobering: Domestic violence has lifelong consequences, correlates with higher incidents of depression and suicide and can affect families for generations.

The antidote? Education. Intervention. Support.

One way to help is by supporting the Willow Domestic Violence Center in Lawrence, which aims to reduce domestic violence by providing shelter, education and advocacy. The center announced this week that so far this year it has served more than 950 community members, sheltered 262 victims and their families and answered more than 3,800 crisis calls from domestic violence survivors in Douglas, Jefferson and Franklin counties.

Douglas County is experiencing nearly three domestic violence incidents per day that are reported. Imagine how many more go unreported. Reducing those numbers should be a community priority.


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